A last minute decision after a surprisingly short work day led me down to Dunsfold Park for my first foray into Surrey league racing. After driving around the airfield for 10 mins or so, I finally found the event HQ, along with three other Twickenham CC riders; Neil, Andy and Alex.

Bouyed by the fact that there were four of us, and also by Neil’s fantastic second place in the same race the previous week, we forged a plan to go on the attack en equipe around half way through the course, after the group was tired from chasing down the inevitable attacks.

A perfectly still, warm evening made perfect conditions for a fast pace from the start. As expected the attacks started pretty much immediately and were generally well shut down by a tenacious peleton. At the start of the third or fourth lap a group went off the front and a few seconds later Neil and Andy powered past to join them. This was it – the Twickenham breakaway! Alex and I joined the break along with few other riders and we started a controlled but quick through and off. During the second rotation we started to notice a few other riders coming through, looked back and the bunch had caught us. So much for the planned break! Clearly the rest of race weren’t going to let us away together.

The attacks and high pace continued, and a couple of riders (in green luminous kit – anybody recognise this team?) managed to stay away for a very creditable 4 laps (during which there was a big crash in the peleton which we all did well to avoid). Towards the end of this escapade, Alex noticed a few other members of their team blocking at the front of the main group, and shot to the front to put an end to this be behaviour. It worked, and the two riders were quickly pulled in.

Towards the end of the race, attacks came and went, and in general we stayed safe in the front third of the main group preserving our strength for the finish. We all pulled at the front for some time at in order to close down escapees; Andy in particularly pulled a very strong stint shortly before looking around for around for some help. After a very long time it was forthcoming, and Andy retreated back the shelter of the main bunch for a well earned rest.

On the last lap, the final breakaways were closed down and everybody accelerated towards the finish. Neil did a great job of leading the Twickenham train into a good position for the final sprint. The finish itself was very widely spread across the entire course and I found myself in the middle towards the front of the group, feeling quite strong. However, the wheel I had jumped on for my leadout ran totally out of steam and I had to hesitate for a few seconds to safely navigate my around. Thereafter I managed a decent sprint and finished (I think) somewhere between 6th and 10th.  During the sprint I heard a big crash behind me, which Neil, Andy and Alex did well to avoid. However, this also put paid their sprint and they finished towards the middle of the bunch.

Overall, we were very happy with the way the race went and particularly that we had all ridden safely with reasonable tactics (perhaps apart from the breakaway attempt). See you all there again next week!

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